Not ev­ery hot-rod­ded six-cylin­der Porsche is a 911…

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words & pho­tos Stephan Szan­tai

Back in April 2017, Clas­sic Porsche in­tro­duced you to Cal­las Rennsport, a South­ern Cal­i­for­ni­abased shop with a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion, which spe­cialises in restor­ing/main­tain­ing a range of rare Porsches. Part of the busi­nessʼs suc­cess re­volves around a group of faith­ful em­ploy­ees, with each hav­ing their area of ex­per­tise. When it comes to 914s, your car will­most likely be han­dled byandy Thonet, the owner of the yel­low ex­am­ple fea­tured here who came to ap­pre­ci­ate the­model years ago, long be­fore col­lec­tors showed any in­ter­est in it.

In fact, this spe­cific car al­lowed him to get a job at Cal­las, when com­pany pro­pri­etor Tony Cal­las took no­tice of the qual­ity of its restora­tion, per­formed in large part by Andy him­self. The lat­ter had no plans of quit­ting his day job in the com­puter in­dus­try, but be­ing a true Porsche en­thu­si­ast how could he refuse work­ing for one of the best-known spe­cial­ists in the field?

Andy is no new­comer to the 914 hobby, hav­ing owned a few, in­clud­ing a fully-re­stored ʼ72 four-cylin­der ex­am­ple. Yet, like many en­thu­si­asts in­fat­u­ated with the mid-en­gine model, he longed for a low-pro­duc­tion 914/6, seen as the Holy Grail within his small fel­low­ship. Porsche be­gan pro­duc­ing the flat­four-equipped ver­sion in late 1969, with an im­pres­sive 115,646 rolling out of the Kar­mann fac­tory un­til the spring of 1976. Now, com­pare this fig­ure to the 914/6, equipped with a 2.0-litre flat-six: the Zuf­fen­hausen plant built only 3338 cars, which equates to less than 3 per cent of the ʻreg­u­larʼ 914ʼs pro­duc­tion run.

Why such a low num­ber? A shorter pro­duc­tion run (1970 to ʼ71, though re­main­ing ex­am­ples sold through 1972) was one rea­son; pur­chase price was an­other, with the six-cylin­der, 2.0-litre model cost­ing DM20,000 in Ger­many com­pared to around DM12,000 for the ʻfourʼ. In com­par­i­son, the 2.2-litre 911T could have been yours for close to DM21,000 in 1970… The 914ʼs styling was­nʼt to ev­ery­bodyʼs taste, ei­ther, hence po­ten­tial Porsche buy­ers of­ten pre­ferred the more po­tent 911, which of­fered an pair of ex­tra seats, too, al­beit diminu­tive.

Be­ing built as a joint ven­ture be­tween Porsche and VW also had an in­flu­ence on the way the 914 was mar­keted, be­ing pro­moted as a four-cylin­der car first and fore­most, thus not step­ping on the 911ʼs toes, so to speak. Some

914/6 own­ers sug­gest an­other rea­son for the lim­ited sales, though. In their view, their beloved two-seater han­dled bet­ter than the 911, thanks to its mid-en­gined con­fig­u­ra­tion; but Porsche did not nec­es­sar­ily want to spread the word to pro­tect the 911ʼs rep­u­ta­tion.

Truth be told, the 914/6 is a ter­rific ve­hi­cle, driv­ing bet­ter than many pro­duc­tion au­to­mo­biles man­u­fac­tured al­most half a cen­tury later. Porsche and VW cer­tainly did their home­work when they con­ceived the model, adding some wel­come fea­tures com­pared to the four-cylin­der cars. Their stan­dard equip­ment in­cluded the fol­low­ing: ven­ti­lated disc brakes up front, unique ro­tors/calipers at the back, larger mas­ter cylin­der, front sus­pen­sion and tor­sion bars gen­er­ally sim­i­lar to the 911T, plus a 911 steer­ing col­umn and dash-mounted ig­ni­tion switch. Among the other main dif­fer­ences, we should also men­tion the 901 gear­box, dis­tinct rear valance, elec­tric win­dow washer and spe­cific sheet metal in the en­gine com­part­ment to ac­com­mo­date the six-cylin­der.

All 914/6s shipped with five-lug rims, more of­ten than not Fuchs al­loys as seen on 911s. How­ever, some ran lightweight Mahle ʻGas­burn­ersʼ wheels or 5.5Jx15 steel rims with 165-15 tyres (in­stead of 4.5Jx15 four-lug wheels with 155-15s for the ʻfourʼ). In the cock­pit, the driver faced dif­fer­ent gauges and steer­ing wheel. This list is by no mean ex­ten­sive, as other mi­nor tech­ni­cal de­tails sep­a­rated the two ver­sions.

Back to the sub­ject of our ar­ti­cle, Andy had been on the look­out for a 914/6 for eons, fi­nally find­ing a can­di­date via the fo­rum. The car came fromap­ple Val­ley, a city lo­cated in the desert about 11⁄ 2- hours from Los An­ge­les. Oh, the hulk did­nʼt look pretty; but where many pic­tured a pile of rust, he saw po­ten­tial. Fur­ther re­search showed this ex­am­ple be­ing num­ber 970, hence Andy quickly sealed the deal. The date was 20 March 2010 and it would take him an­other four years to pro­duce this show win­ner.

His for­mer 914 projects, all four-cylin­der based, had left him with a pile of spare and NOS parts, al­though he would need a lot more to com­plete the restora­tion. ʻOne of the things I love is the hunt for partsʼ, he told us. ʻMy goal was to use the best orig­i­nal parts I could find, as well as a big-port 3.0-litre en­gine – I left the orig­i­nal fac­tory 2-litre en­gine in stor­age.ʼ

Me­dia-blast­ing the bodyshell in Novem­ber 2011 al­lowed him to get a bet­ter idea of the dam­age sus­tained since 1970. At Auto Art Cus­toms in Tor­rance, Cal­i­for­nia, Kent Sim­mons was put in charge of chas­ing and elim­i­nat­ing the rust spots. They in­cluded the bat­tery tray, tail sec­tions, var­i­ous holes on the lead­ing pas­sen­ger lon­gi­tu­di­nal, and the driverʼs side jack­ing point.


As work pro­gressed, more ar­eas of con­cern ap­peared, such as the rear quar­ters, front wings, as well as both sills/rock­ers. The lon­gi­tu­di­nals and other sec­tions were opened, de-rusted and en­cap­su­lated to pre­vent any risk of fu­ture cor­ro­sion. A few donor cars and NOS sec­tions came in handy to sup­ply re­pair pan­els, such as lon­gi­tu­di­nals, jams, wings and the whole sail panel be­tween the tail­lights.

Like many 914 fans, Andy loved the looks of the mighty GT mod­els, char­ac­terised by their flares. But find­ing the right parts proved an ar­du­ous task, un­til he struck gold as he ex­plains: ʻI man­aged to ac­quire a set of fac­tory flares and, with the rear quar­ters al­ready miss­ing, it was a no brainer. These deal­erin­stalled parts be­came the M471 op­tion in 1971. They were very rare, as only 400 sets were made for ho­molo­ga­tion.ʼ

Sev­eral freshly-built pieces of the puz­zle came from Restora­tion De­sign, such as the struc­ture of the Targa/roll bar (known as ʻsailsʼ), along with the floor pans. To change the lat­ter, Andy pur­chased a car ro­tis­serie kit, which proved very handy to per­form more metal surgery, in­clud­ing the en­gine com­part­ment which had been poorly re­paired in the past. In­ci­den­tally, a stiff­en­ing kit was fit­ted in the rear wells, at the for­ward en­gine mount and around the swing-arm con­sole – mod­i­fi­ca­tions per­formed on the fac­tory GTS when in­stalling a more pow­er­ful en­gine. Af­ter com­plet­ing the metal work, the ʼshell re­ceived a few coats of PPG primer sealer, fol­lowed by DCC sin­gle-stage paint in colour code 29, Ca­nary Yel­low – the ve­hi­cleʼs orig­i­nal hue as con­firmed by Porscheʼs Cer­tifi­cate of Ori­gin.

The 914 re­turned to Andyʼs one-car garage, wait­ing to be re­assem­bled with a bunch of parts he had re­stored. He also in­stalled the wiring har­ness, to­gether with the sus­pen­sion,

Above and right: The li­cence plate only tells half the story. The car may have started out as an orig­i­nal 914/6 but it has been taken a stage or two fur­ther, with GT wheel arch flares and (right) a healthy 270bhp 3.0-litre en­gine amongst the many mod­i­fi­ca­tions car­ried out by the owner Far right: Andy Thonet gave up a job in IT to work with Tony Cal­las at Cal­las Rennsport, the qual­ity of his restora­tion on the 914/6 cap­tur­ing Cal­lasʼs at­ten­tion

Be­low: As found, the car was a real mess – but it was an orig­i­nal ʻsixʼ so worth ev­ery penny. Trans­form­ing it from sowʼs ear to silk purse meant some ex­ten­sive body­work! Level of de­tail­ing through­out is now ex­em­plary

Above: Nose-down ground­hug­ging stance gives the 914/6 an ag­gres­sive look. Wheels are ʻsix­teensʼ de­tailed by Al Reed

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